Diego Forlán would be the first to admit his time in England did not live up to expectations - but nor did it do full justice to his talents.
The striker who fell out of favour at Manchester United FC underwent a metamorphosis last season with Villarreal CF, to the extent that he shared the ESM Golden Shoe with Thierry Henry after an explosive display of finishing in Spain. Now Forlán stands on the verge of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals with another encouraging record behind him: since moving to El Madrigal, he has faced four British teams without tasting defeat, and the Uruguayan international has also scored against Everton FC and Tuesday's opponents Rangers FC.
That latter strike came in the exciting 2-2 first-leg draw in Glasgow, leaving Villarreal as favourites to advance to Friday's last-eight draw. However, the 26-year-old believes too many people are taking a home victory for granted. Forlán said: "I was very aware how excited everyone associated with the club was when the draw threw up Rangers. Right from that moment, though, the players knew very well that this was going to be a difficult tie. The fans and media often think things are going to be a lot easier than they are."
The statistic to back up the general air of confidence over Villarreal's chances is that the club have never been eliminated from a UEFA competition when the second leg of a tie has been played at El Madrigal. Forlán added: "I think the key to the tie is that they have to come and attack us at some stage because they have to win. That should open up the game, and we would hope to take advantage. But the truth is that if Rangers go 1-0 up, they will be delighted to get everyone behind the ball, defend for their lives and make the night very difficult for us."
While Villarreal will doubtless look to the pace and prowess of Forlán to ensure their progress, the Scottish champions boast a speed merchant of their own in right-winger Chris Burke. The 22-year-old shares the Uruguayan's view that, although Villarreal are favourites, there is life left in this tie. "We know from the tapes we have watched, and from our experience in the first game, that Villarreal will probably control a lot of the possession," said the Scot.
"But we also know there will be spells when we have the ball and that is when we must make our possession count. Football is an unpredictable sport, and if it wasn't then so many millions of people wouldn't watch it. If you don't believe in yourself then you won't win, and I'm confident we can build on the two goals we scored against them in the first leg and provide a shock result which will put us in the quarter-finals."
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